I’m pretty familiar with washing handmade vintage items made of wool. If you’re not familiar with the care that wool items require you can be left wondering why your woolen or knitted items don’t last, are destroyed, shrink or are felted.
For those unfamiliar with genuine wool items it is easy to fall into the trap of assuming that machine washing woolen items like everyday pieces would be okay.
What you should know about laundry vintage woolen items!
First up, be prepared to get your hands wet, you’re going to be hand washing.
There are many products I have on hand for cleaning and restoring vintage items, but when it comes to vintage woolen items the main two products I have on hand are:

  • Earth Choice Woolen & Delicates Eucalyptus Wash
  • Goanna Eucalyptus Oil 
Step One
Using the laundry tun or plastic container, fill with enough warm (not hot) water to cover the garment/item you’re going to wash. In the warm water dilute 20-30ml of wool wash liquid.
Place the woolen item/garment into the water carefully. Basically you want to let it soak, be careful not to agitate the garment in the water too much, as it will ware away at the fibers and can also cause felting. You can step away and let it have a good ole soak for a few hours and overnight if necessary.

Step Two

After a good soak, drain the water out of the tub/container. Lift the garment in a bundle so the woolen fibers aren’t stretched and place the item into a colander or strainer of some description. Then run warm water through the garment in the colander. You can press down gently on the garment to help this process to remove the detergent/wash and repeat if necessary.

Step Three
Again let garment drip and drain in a colander, once again you can press down lightly to help expel the excess water. Once it has had a good drip dry, lift the garment in a bundle on to a clean dry towel that you have laid out (I double my towels up for more absorbency).

Step Four
Spread your garment out gently on the towel and proceed to roll your garment up in the towel as seen in the example above. Apply gently but even pressure whilst rolling to help the initial drying process and explosion of excess fluid . 
Repeat process if necessary. 
Step Five
With another clean towel lay the laundered garment/item flat in the sun to dry.
Further Note
Stubborn stains often improve with a good sunning. If you’ve followed the above process and allowed your garment or item a good sunning to assist with stain removal you can try some straight Eucalyptus Oil on stubborn spots by dabbing gently.
Final Care Notes after Laundering
When storing your woolen items, never put them on a hanger. Remember to always fold them and have them on a shelf or in a drawer, this will give your garment longevity by not stretching the fibers your item from the weight of the garment or piece. 
ETA: full disclosure the above products are just products I use and love there has been no payment or product received for this post.

9 thoughts on “Cleaning Vintage Wool Cardigans and Clothing…..

  • April 5, 2012 at 1:26 am

    Yeah that woolen's setting is confusing indeed. We have a big big washing machine so even when things are on woolen or handwash setting they still get a bit roughed up. Wish I had time to do all of the above though….of course worth it for favourite pieces!



  • April 5, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    OMG the earth choice range is the best ever – it's all we use in the laundry! Have a brilliant Easter!

  • April 11, 2012 at 10:58 am

    In the nick of time then. Glad it hear it will be of help to you.

  • April 11, 2012 at 11:01 am

    Perhaps you could soak a garment over night , drain next morning hen you get a chance the next morning and then final steps will only take you 5mins or so. Then leave to dry in the sun.


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